Why does Valve advocate gaming on Linux?

Windows on Linux is the future

A few days ago, Eric S. Raymond (ESR), developer and writer, announced that we were approaching the final phase of the desktop wars. The winner? Windows on Linux. Raymond argues that “WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) makes it possible to run unmodified Linux binaries on Windows 10. No emulation, no shim layer, they are simply loaded and executed ”. In fact, you can now run standard Linux programs under WSL2 with no problem.

That's because Linux is well on its way to becoming a premium offering on the Windows desktop. Several Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, Red Hat Fedora, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED), now run smoothly on WSL2. That's because Microsoft replaced its WSL1 translation layer, which converted Linux kernel calls to Windows calls, with the WSL2. With WSL2, Microsoft's own Linux kernel runs on a thin version of the Hyper-V hypervisor.

That is not all. With the current Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20211, you can now access Linux file systems such as ext4 via Windows File Manager and PowerShell. In addition, Microsoft developers make it easy to run Linux graphical applications on Windows.

Raymond points out that others are also working to make Windows applications easier to run on Linux. In particular, he points to Valve Proton, a WINE-based compatibility layer designed to run Windows Steam games on Linux.

"Games are the most demanding stress test for a Windows emulation layer, much more so than business software." If you can run Windows games on Linux, why not run Windows business applications too?

He also correctly noted that Microsoft no longer depends on Windows for its cash flow, but on its Azure cloud offering. Incidentally, it runs more Linux instances than Windows Server instances.

If that's the case, why should Microsoft continue to invest money in the notorious, troubled Windows kernel - over 50 fatal bugs were fixed in the last Patch Tuesday roundup - when it can freely use the Linux kernel? Good question. He thinks Microsoft can figure it out and switch to Linux.

Microsoft wants you to replace your existing PC-based software, like Office 2019, with software-as-a-service (SaaS) programs like Office 365. Microsoft also encourages you to switch your voice, video, chat, and text communications to Microsoft's Azure Communication Services (ACS) even if you are not using Teams.

With SaaS programs, Microsoft doesn't care what operating system you are using. The Redmond-based company still makes money, regardless of whether you run Office 365 on Windows, a Chromebook or, yes, Linux.

There are two possible ways for Windows. First, there is a Linux-based Windows. It just makes financial sense. Or the existing Windows desktop is replaced by Windows Virtual Desktop or other Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offerings.

Even if Microsoft takes a DaaS approach, it will of course still need a common basic operating system. This, like Chrome OS, will provide just enough of an operating system to run a browser with a minimum of other local resources.

Google decided to save money and increase security by using Linux as the base for Chrome OS. That worked really well for Google. This can also be a model for Microsoft.